BERLIN -- Industrial orders in Germany fell by an unexpectedly large 1.7 percent in June from the previous month, led by a slide in orders from other countries that use the euro, official data showed Tuesday. However, the Economy Ministry said recent figures show no "clear trend."
The drop in the often-volatile index followed a 0.7 percent monthly increase in May. That was revised upward slightly from the initial reading of 0.6 percent.
It was also stronger than the 0.8 percent slide economists had predicted.
The biggest cause of the decline was a 4.9 percent fall in orders from other nations in the 17-nation eurozone -- partly reversing a large gain the previous month. Domestic demand also dropped in June, with orders falling 2.1 percent, but demand from countries outside the eurozone edged up 0.6 percent.
The German economy, Europe's biggest, so far has been relatively unaffected by the debt crisis afflicting its eurozone partners.
But second-quarter output figures due next week are expected to show growth slowing from the healthy first-quarter figure of 0.5 percent, and business confidence is fading.
The Economy Ministry's statement Tuesday said that industrial orders data "currently show no clear trend." It added that overall second-quarter figures were slightly above those for the first quarter, with foreign demand pulling orders higher.
All the same, recent business surveys "uniformly signal a renewed weakening in overall order activity" at the beginning of the year's second half, said Alexander Koch, an economist at UniCredit in Munich.